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Hello Everyone,
                        I recently ordered from Aquarium Plants ( http://aquariumplant.com/cgi-bin/cart/index.html<http://aquariumplant.com/cgi-bin/cart/index.html> ) and as I was poking around the site, I found a DIY fertilizer pellet maker. Does anyone have any experience making their own fertilizer pellets? I decided to give it a try. Rather than buy what looked to me like a "homeowner" model, I put together an industrial strength version. ( Tim Taylor never worked for the Foxboro Highway Department )I am still awaiting shipping on the various components, but I am confident in the design. I just received a pound of Greg Watson's Pre-mixed PMDD (http://www.gregwatson.com/products.asp<http://www.gregwatson.com/products.asp>) and as I still have copious amounts of the various commercial liquids, I thought I might use some in my new pellets. For the casting of the pellets, I got a few different bullet molds. The molds are basically just two chunks of steel with half a bullet machined into each piece. Normally you would pour molten lead through the small hole in the top of the mold, this is where I will put in the ingredients for my pellets. I must take a ride this week sometime to Braintree, there is a pottery supply store there that sells 50lb bags of powdered redart clay. This high iron clay will be the main ingredient. The bags go for around $10 so I'll probably pick up a handful while I'm out that way as I intend to use this clay as part of the substrate for my giant tank. ( Thanks again to all who gave advice on the acrylic vs glass debate. ) I am planning to compact the clay into the bullet molds with a set of steel punches powered by a one ton hand operated arbor press. The arbor press weighs about 40lbs so I'll probably mount it to a bench so I can avoid moving it back and forth from wherever I might decide to keep it otherwise. My idea is to pack about half the mold with clay, and then moisten the clay by adding PMDD, then keep ramming home more clay till the mold is full. Naturally there will be a lot of trial and error regarding amount of moistening etc., but I think I may be on to something. This may sound crazy but everything purchased came to less than $100 so if I can get a few hours of enjoyment out of making these pellets then I guess its on par with going out to dinner with the wife. I am not entirely sure ( understatement ) how much PMDD is the appropriate amount to use so I guess I'll do some practicing with plain water to see how many drops are in fact needed to create the adhesion in the clay when combined with the pressure exerted by the arbor press. When I think I have this aspect under control, I will try to mix up some PMDD in a solution with the appropriate concentration to provide fertilization but not rampant algae ( Ya Right! I'm REALLY likely to hit on that just right concentration ) At any rate, the fact that the pellets will end up deep in the substrate will hopefully mitigate any harmful effects. If nothing else, the pellets will at least provide a good source of iron. Of course this effect will probably be of negligible benefit as I have already added more than the recommended amount of First Layer Pure Laterite to a substrate consisting of 30.8lbs Flourite and 40lbs Eco-Complete with a 12lb bag of Florabase mixed in because I just couldn't risk missing out on whatever goodies might be in there. I know your wondering why I would even bother adding the laterite to the Flourite but again, I just couldn't risk it. I am concerned regarding the line between good fertilizing and too much of a good thing. I learned from reading in the archives that the presence of some substances in quantities too great will prevent the uptake of other substances. This must be the plant correlation of killing with kindness. I'm beginning to think this venture may be considered a success if I can just avoid killing all my plants and or fish! I would very much appreciate any ideas or comments concerning this project. If this idea generates any interest, I will be glad to provide updates on the value of these pellets.
                                                                                                               Thanks,  Mike

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